Monza Practice 1: Hamilton in charge

Lewis Hamilton  fastest in FP1 at Monza

Lewis Hamilton fastest in FP1 at Monza

Lewis Hamilton wasted no time in asserting himself in Italian Grand Prix practice on Friday with the Mercedes driver lapping more than half a second quicker than anyone else at the fastest track on the calendar.

The Briton, who retired in Belgium 12 days ago after team mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg tagged the back of his car, ended the session with a best time of 1:26.187 seconds.

McLaren‘s Jenson Button, was second fastest on a dry track in 1:26.810, with Rosberg – who has never been on the Monza podium – pushed back to third on the timesheets in 1:26.995.

Hamilton is 29 points behind Rosberg in the championship with seven races remaining and is determined to claw his way back against his German rival, who was punished by the team for the collision.

Jenson Button second fastest

Jenson Button second fastest

Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso was fourth fastest with Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen reinforcing Button’s strong showing with the fifth best time for McLaren – the team last won a race in 2012.

Red Bull‘s quadruple Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, last year’s winner at the ‘cathedral’ of Italian motorsport, was only sixth fastest while Australian team mate Daniel Ricciardo was back in 16th. The pair likely to move up the order as the weekend progresses.

Ricciardo, as good as Italian to many of the home fans and chasing his third win in a row, was sidelined for some of the session with a power unit problem and could only manage 12 laps.

The Williams pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were 12th and 13th but are likely to look more competitive in the afternoon as they tend to turn up the wick as things start to get more serious. Notably Massa was fastest of all through the speed traps.

Fernando Alonso waves to the tifosi

Fernando Alonso waves to the tifosi

At the slower end of the field, Spanish driver Roberto Merhi made his debut appearance at a Formula 1 weekend and lapped faster than regular race driver Marcus Ericsson in the sister Caterham.

Merhi will hand the car back to Kamui Kobayashi rest of the weekend. The rest of the weekend driver was back on the scene after being dropped by the team for the race at Spa.

Spanish reserve driver Daniel Juncadella also had a stint with Force India while Frenchman Charles Pic was handed compatriot Romain Grosjean’s Lotus for the session. (Reuters)

Italian Grand Prix, Free Practice 1 – Friday, 5 September 2014
Pos No Driver Team Time Gap Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:26.187 25
2 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.810 0.623 27
3 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.995 0.808 26
4 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:27.169 0.982 23
5 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.228 1.041 30
6 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:27.271 1.084 27
7 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:27.493 1.306 27
8 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1:27.687 1.500 13
9 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 1:27.741 1.554 33
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:28.112 1.925 23
11 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.114 1.927 21
12 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1:28.148 1.961 20
13 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1:28.150 1.963 21
14 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 1:28.300 2.113 30
15 36 Giedo van der Garde Sauber-Ferrari 1:28.429 2.242 19
16 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:28.487 2.300 12
17 34 Daniel Juncadella Force India-Mercedes 1:29.192 3.005 10
18 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 1:29.512 3.325 24
19 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:30.017 3.830 25
20 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 1:30.081 3.894 27
21 30 Charles Pic Lotus-Renault 1:30.125 3.938 23
22 45 Roberto Merhi Caterham-Renault 1:30.704 4.517
23 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:30.948 4.761 16